Window/door trim questions.

gardenwebberFebruary 1, 2008

I am not sure which forum this question is best suited - decorating, remodeling, or woodworking. I tried decorating, and I thought I'd try here, as well.

We are currently remodeling our kitchen and replacing plaster and lathe with drywall in several rooms of our house. I am stressing about what to do about our trim. It cannot be re-used. It is poorly done honey-colored oak with mitered corners, and quite frankly, we hate it. It doesn't even match throughout the house - varying sizes, thicknesses and shades of honey. It looks bad, so we are glad to be rid of it actually. DH would like to re-do all the trim in our home to match what we have in an added-on family room. My questions are:

1. Is there a name for the style of door trim that has crown on top of it? That is the style DH would like to use throughout the house.

2. Should window trim and door trim match? In other words, if we crown the doors, do we need to crown the windows also?

3. Will this be an overly costly endeavor? We are planning to use some sort of pine and paint it white.

Any thoughts?

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The web site below might help.

Here is a link that might be useful: door trim

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 11:22AM
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I'm not so sure it's about the cost but the time that it will take to re-do your entire house.

Also, do you have the right tools for the job? A compound miter saw or a quality hand saw miter box is a must.

I've done an entire house and it is time consuming. I did colonial molding and stained it. That process in itself takes time. You can purchase primed molding and paint it after it is installed.

In terms of crown molding over doors versus over the windows is a personal taste and depends upon the style of your home. Our present home has a decorative molding (fluted with rossettes on the corners) for the main entrance. The windows on the first floor (visible with the door) are colonial modling - no decorative crown.

handymac's site is an excellent resource.

Enjoy the journey.

eal51 in western CT

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 11:52AM
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It used to be the "standard" that all moldings in any one room should match. However, that is no longer adhered to and good ridance to that idea, I say.

I'm doing the finish work in a house I had built in 1999. I'm using the same casing on all the doorways, but different casing on the windows. The dimensions of the woodwork are the same, but the beading on it is a little different. So it looks united, but not the same, if you get the drift. I think woodwork should be viewed as an art piece because it certainly adds aesthetics to a room.

You can build up moldings to give doorways a real flair. If DH has a router, you can buy a table for it so that it is now a shaper. With a shaper, you can make your own moldings and make them unlike anything you can buy. Good luck--moldings are a fun project.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 12:08PM
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Hi there - thanks for your advice everyone.

Eal - you said you have rossettes in your home on some of the trim. Did you do them yourself? And, how did you decide which openings (which doors and which windows) would receive rossettes, and which ones wouldn't? What did you use on any openings that did NOT have rossettes?

Rossettes are within our home's period, and we are considering that, as well. Its between the rossettes at the corners or crown on top (I saw someone call this "arts and crafts" on another board) and we are leaning towards Rossettes at the corners.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 11:51AM
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If you have no experience in trim work, probably not a project to start out on. You might consider a reputable finish carpenter for your project. Going out and buying a compound miter is not going to turn out a decent finish job for you, there's a lot more to it. Rosette corners simplify because of butt joining, but there are tricks of the trade to even the simplest butt joints to make them tight almost seamless. A good trim carpenter would never have to use fillers even on a paint grade project, with the exception of spotting fastener holes.

If you have some experience, then i apologize, but finish carpentry is a learned art that takes time to dial in clean work. Dealing w/ issues such as uneven walls/ceilings, out of square corners, geting clean cuts mitered or butt takes practice. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 11:18AM
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Our house was built in the late 1920s. The milled second piece of the baseboard was missing in the kitchen and hallway. When we had our kitchen remodeled and nearly all our house windows reconfigured and replaced, we had a ton of custom millwork made. Milling a lot costs only a little more than milling a tiny bit since the set-up cost is a lot more than the cost of the wood. We found fairly pristine samples of what we needed in the closets -- only a coat or two of paint on them. The matching trim throughout our house makes a huge difference in how integrated and age appropriate it feels.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 7:07PM
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Thank you for your advice. It is really making me reconsider this trim project.

My DH does have some limited experience with trim work. But honestly - I am not up for a whole lot of work on the trim right now.

Could someone recommend a trimming technique or style that would be safe and not complicated for us? Is there something that would look nice but fairly easy to put together? One thing I am sure of is that we want painted trim. But I am definitely not up for the learning curve of something really ornate. (I am suddenly realizing this!)

I don't want to spend the $$ on trial/error, and I definitely don't want to spend a whole lot of time! We are already looking at 6 months for our whole renovation. And I can just see us straggling on for months over the last details (like trim work!)

Any suggestions on what might be a smarter choice for trim in our situation?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 8:29PM
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Rosettes in the corners CAN be less work than getting perfect miters. Of course, you still have to take care when cutting the molding so the pieces fit tight against the rosettes. You really don't need a lot of experience to learn how to do good molding work. I taught my girlfiend the basics and she's doing a FABULOUS job in her house.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 8:41AM
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Greenzeus- thanks for your post. My DH is really "into" the rosette idea, and I keep trying to talk him out of it because I am afraid of all the work. Your post makes me feel better about letting him have at it.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 9:53AM
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Rosettes are easy. You put the rosettes up first in the corners, making sure they are square to the window or door, then you cut the molding to fit in between.

Here is a link that might be useful: installing rosettes

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 12:02PM
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I'm using rosettes in my house and when my girlfriend saw it she changed her mind about mitering her woodwork. I recently saw her project in a hallway with many rooms off of it, and what a change. The previous woodwork was all mitered. It really gives an additional decorative look that ups the aesthetics of a room. I think you'll like the result. Miters are really a lot more work because most doorways and windows are not quite square. Then you spend a lot of time at the miter saw trying to figure out something more or less than a 45 degree cut. I spend much more time and SWEAT trying to figure miters than when using rosettes.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 10:03AM
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I am on my third house remodel and I always replace the whole house trim throughout. I have a few suggestions...

1. There is definitely a learning curve. I used rosettes in my first house because of the no miter thing. I was nervous. As I look at that house now-I am embarassed by the obvious signs that a novice did the trim. Rosettes are not necessarily going to make your projects turn out better. You will need to cut miters for the base anyway so you might as well get exactly what you want not what is easiest.
2. Make sure the saw is large enough for your trim. I used an 8 inch base and my miter saw was not bg enough and I had to upgrade. It will say on the saw what size miters it can do. Also keep your blades sharp so the edges are not ragged.
3. Go to your local lumberyard to get the trim. They usually have better quality and more selection. Ask the guy at the front if they have a special order trim catalog. You may find a one piece design that you love. This will save a lot of time on cuts. I always use an 8 inch one piece base. It is beautiful and quick to install.
4. If you are painting the trim, think about using MDF instead. It paints beautifully.
5. I recommend the book called CROWN MOLDING AND TRIM. It is a great resource. I think I got it at a big box store but is also available at
6. If you think you are going to try it...paint or stain everything first. It will save you a lot of time. Touching up the nail holes is quick.

Trim can make your house spectacular if done properly. It is however, very time consuming especially for a first timer. It may be worth it to pay someone. However, contractors aren't necessarily good at it either. There are good ones and bad ones just like anything else.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 4:13PM
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I bought a year ago a house built in the '40s because of its location. It was quite ordinary, to say the least, but it had potential. Changing the trim everywhere was a big job, but was definetely worth it. It changed the feel of the whole house.

We had to decide what to put where.... this was difficult. No clear guidelines. We hesitated between rosettes and colonial molding over doors. Rosettes as far as I've been told is typically related to the victorian era. I finally decided it was to ornate for my house. We finally decided to use the same trim for all the floors (7 inches wide; 9' ceiling) and for all the windows and doors (4 inches; assorted to the floor one). We finally put the colonial molding over all doors on the first floor, and left the ones on the second floor with regular trim.

We used MDF trim. Don't be put off by what you will find in regular big box stores. There are (at least around here) many stores specializing in stairs and molding; they can get you unusual design for not very much more money than the big box stores. Installation was quite tricky. It was a lot of headache to make it all fit in an old house because the floors and walls are not leveled (we resurfaced the original maple floors that were under the ugly carpet). Despite a meticulous job of fitting, we had to use a lot of caulking to make it all look good. Don't underestimate the time to fit everything on old walls and floors!

Overall, however, despite many discouraging moments, we are very happy with the final results. All visitors comment on the beauty of the trim. Everytime, I wink at my husband, who wanted to kill at some point for initiating this project!

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 1:33PM
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we did a small den, used 6 inch pine boards around the 3 doors and one window, did straight cuts, we stained them but you could paint. Learning to use combination saws take time. Cut a piece wrong and now its too short. Have used rosettes, and wondered why DW never told me about them before, I can't cut angles to save my life. With paint you can fill in gaps with caulk.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 11:05AM
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